Monday, February 25, 2008

Saddles

So, I've been looking at saddles, because, let's face it, as much as I love my synthetic for long hours in the saddle with light work, it just isn't a working-weight saddle. Plus, like every saddle I've ever ridden, it is technically too big for me, at sixteen inches.

Since I've never had a saddle that actually fits me I've asked a few people what the proper size for my tiny butt would be, and I've been told a fourteen to fourteen and a half inch seat should fit me fairly well.

Off the rack there are precisely two styles of saddle that come in fourteen inches. Barrel racing saddles, and youth saddles.

Not exactly working weight either.

So my only real option for a saddle that actually fits me is a custom. Which translates roughly as "go ahead and sell your eggs cause that's the only way you're gonna afford this."

But, being an optimist, I've been perusing websites for custom saddlemakers near enough to me for me to visit in person, first. Because I'm picky, and if I'm going to pay that much money for anything I'm going to see the quality of the goods in person before I commit to it.

I've only found one that I like what I see on the site well enough to consider it a real option, rather than a maybe.

We're talking right at three grand for a basic saddle, no tooling, no extras. Meanwhile I want at least corner basket weave and a border to strengthen the leather, strings, a padded seat, and rawhide covering on the cantle roll and a horn bead in rawhide.

Nothing extremely fancy, although if I'm laying out that much cash I might go the extra hundred bucks to get my initials brand-style on it.

So I'm looking at $3,500 to $4,000.

All because I've got a tiny butt and can't buy a working weight saddle off the rack.

On the other hand, if the quality is as good as it looks, that saddle will last me literally for the rest of my life. Heck, Farmdad's saddle belonged to his grandpa, who had it built custom in the 20's, and that one has been ridden in feedlots and banged around working, and has only had the fleece, the seat, and the leather on the swells replaced.

A truly high quality saddle will be in your will, and if I'm going to spend as much on a saddle as I did on my car, I want that quality.

So, the tax return is going in the special saddle account, and I'll be continuing to save my pennies.

Maybe I'll be able to afford it by the time I'm thirty.....

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Farmgirl just in the way of a possible suggestion. For those of us who are not really horse literate have you ever thought about a glossary of terms?

Farmgirl said...

Anonymous--

Which terms are you thinking of? Just the ones I used in this post or every horse term I use? I can explain the terms in this one easily enough, but explaining every horse term I use will wind up being kind of distracting... I'm more than happy to answer any specific questions, though!

drc said...

Have you checked out Hamleys? They offer some beautiful saddles and not just the ones on their website. You just need to call and talk to them. They are based out of Pendleton, OR. You always did need an excuse to go to the Round-Up, didn't you?

Farmgirl said...

drc-

Oregon is *just* a bit far to drive to check out a saddle shop. It'd cost me almost as much to get there as it would for the saddle!

Anonymous said...

Otherwise, you'll pay about twice what you would pay for an "off the shelf" saddle. That's really not bad considering it's for a lifetime. It's like a custom pair of boots.

Only thing to consider: Broadening of the beam may occur and the fit may be a little snug. Then again, that might keep you from falling out.

jon

Anonymous said...

Have to add my experience with saddles. In my days of horses, I spent many a day at livestock auctions. Many auctioned saddles and tack before the stock. I found some good saddles that needed a little work, such as a little stitching. Most I fixed, cleaned and resold.

One good deal was a saddle that a hungry cowboy auctioned for his current emergency. I can't remember if it was a Billy Cook, or Circle Y.(too many years and too much water under the bridge), but my wife decided it would be hers and she kept it until we finally sold our horses. Considering I paid less than $200 for a $1500 saddle, I felt I made a good deal.

jon

Reiner said...

I know he's a bit far for you (central CA), but Al Gould makes incredibly nice saddles without a huge waiting list or super inflated price. I got mine from him in less than a year for $3000 and it's one of the nicest custom saddles I've ever seen. (Partial floral carved even). His brother is Carl Gould, who won SBF quite a few years ago, so he knows the reining/cow horse industry well. He also makes one of the best seats around.

Another consideration for you; you may want to get on a list once you get your deposit $$ because most of the good quality saddle makers are at least a year wait, if not longer.

Lastly (I promise), I'd recommend talking to horsemen you trust and asking them which saddle makers they like. Very few of the top saddlemakers are on the internet to look up.

Ok, I lied, one more. You might also try Colorado Saddlery. (Since I think you're in Colorado). They're one of the better non-custom places, but you could probably still request a 14" seat from them. That will probably run you $1,500, and they're great working saddles.

Good luck!

equine_05 said...

I feel your pain. I recently bought a Hermes Steinkraus close contact and I'm pretty sure it's worth more than my car. I'm serious...

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